Defining the Buyer’s Journey: 15 Questions to Nail Down the Problem and Solution

Wendy LieberCo-founder, Content Bacon - Trusted Partner

Defining the buyer’s journey requires an intimate understanding of your customer and the obstacles they face at every touchpoint along the way.

Key Takeaways:

  • The buyer’s journey is no longer the seller’s domain—today, buyers hold the reins
  • 76% of customers expect brands to understand their needs
  • The only way to understand the buyer’s journey is by asking the right questions about pain points and experiences
  • The Awareness, Consideration, and Decision stages each come with unique questions that you can answer to define the journey
  • With the answers to those questions, you can paint the touchpoints that make up the journey (and the personas who activate the touchpoints)

The buyer’s journey is potentially the most important framework in inbound marketing. Every sale your brand makes is the result of a buyer completing the journey—and every new instance of churn is a result of a buyer prematurely ending it. The most well-known iteration of the buyer’s journey is a three-stage map that includes:

  • The Awareness Stage: The buyer knows about their problem, and they’re actively looking for ways to address it.
  • The Consideration Stage:  The buyer has enough information about the available solutions to start thinking about making a decision.
  • The Decision Stage: The buyer decides to buy into your product or service as the solution to their problem—you’ve done it!

Of course, the journey never really ends if you want to retain customers. Converting that sales funnel into a flywheel turns happy buyers into promoters by Attracting, Engaging, and Delighting them.

Of course, the buyer’s journey can take many different routes—it’s important to anticipate all the potential roads buyers could take to reach you.

The buyer’s journey is customer-led—and increasingly complex

Sellers don’t pilot the buyer’s journey anymore—if they ever did!

Buyers are the ones in the driver’s seat, so it’s not enough to build a linear journey map that brings your lead from point A to point B to point C.

Instead, you have to consider the likelihood that your customers want to circle from point B back to point A to review some information, go back to point B to think about their options…

… and maybe then finally make a decision about your product or service.

The point is your buyers are too picky to shoehorn into a linear buyer’s journey that lacks real definition. But they have to be picky because no one else will recognize their pain points and anticipate the solution for them, right?

Hint: That’s where you come in.

Buyers crave brands that anticipate their needs

These days, it’s not enough to have a killer solution to a big problem. Instead, you have to show the buyer that you’re inside their head and tackling their problems from a place of understanding.

According to the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report:

  • 89% of B2B buyers and 72% of consumer buyers expect brands to understand their unique needs and expectations
  • 75% of business buyers expect companies to anticipate their needs before even making contact
  • 70% of consumer buyers say their loyalty is influenced by a company’s understanding of their needs
  • 70% of all buyers say it’s very important for brands to understand how customers use their products and services

Ask these questions about buyers at every stage

The only way to understand your buyer is to ask the right questions and think critically about the answers from the buyer’s perspective. The buyer’s journey is 70% over before your sales team even hears from a prospect. If you don’t define the stages based on the buyer’s needs, they might bounce before ever landing on your product!

Ask yourself these questions to define the buyer’s journey at each stage.

Questions for the Awareness Stage
  1. What’s the buyer’s biggest goal?
  2. What’s the biggest obstacle in the way of that goal?
  3. Where does your buyer go to troubleshoot their challenges?
  4. How does the buyer decide to prioritize solving a challenge?
  5. Who does the buyer ask for advice on their challenges and goals?
Questions for the Consideration Stage
  1. Where does your buyer go to find and compare solutions?
  2. What information does your buyer need to compare solutions (e.g., pricing)?
  3. How does the buyer weigh the pros and cons for solutions?
  4. How does the buyer digest information the best?
  5. What are the buyer’s deal-breakers?
Questions for the Decision Stage
  1. Who else does the buyer need to involve in a decision?
  2. Do buyers need to prepare to implement the solution, e.g., make an implementation plan?
  3. Is your buyer more likely to make a decision if they can try the product first?
  4. What questions does the buyer have about implementing your solution?
  5. What are the most important criteria for your buyer’s decision-making process?
Bonus: Questions for the Retention Stage

Not all iterations of the buyer’s journey include Retention as a stage, but it’s a critical fourth stage that’s also represented on the flywheel as Delight.

You see, it’s five times as expensive to attract a new customer compared to retaining an existing one. Simply boosting retention by 5% increases profits between 25% and 95%!

Ask yourself these questions to guide your buyers from decision to retention:

  1. What are the buyer’s expectations for your solution?
  2. What obstacles might get in the way of the buyer’s desired results?
  3. What results should the buyer expect from your solution?
  4. What action does the buyer need to take to maximize results?
  5. How does the buyer quantify results, value, and satisfaction with your solution?

Walk with us through your buyer’s journey

Telling your brand’s story through the buyer’s journey requires some intensive thought about:

  • Your buyer: who they are and what they want
  • The buyer’s biggest pain points, challenges, and goals
  • The personas that represent the buyer
  • The touchpoints that the buyer goes through
  • The buyer’s thought process and priorities

That’s a lot to cover—and in 15 questions, you can get pretty close (but you might still want some extra support). Check out Bacon Bits to read more kickass content about attracting, engaging, and delighting the people who make your business turn on its axis!

Contributing Advisors

Dave KustinCo-founder, Content Bacon - Trusted Partner